Selecting a qualified web designer is not an easy process. If you are in the market for a new website design for your business, there are many things to consider before making your final decision. Knowledge is power. Preparation is key. Don’t get burned.
Before you hire your next web designer, take some time to make sure that you do your homework first. It is important to know exactly what your own needs are before expecting someone else (i.e.,your web designer) to satisfy those needs. A little preparation will go a long way to making sure you are not disappointed (at best) or ripped off (at worst).
Select a web designer who has at least 5 years experience in building and deploying web sites and Internet solutions. Look for someone who has experience managing the entire web development lifecycle (from conception to delivery). Make sure your designer is experienced in creating search engine friendly web sites and understands the importance of integrating a flexible content management system (CMS).
Make sure you view at least 3 to 4 examples of the designers work and understand the extent of the designer’s involvement in each design. Look for a variety of styles from the designer. If a designer has mastered only one style of layout, this may not meet your specific needs. Make sure that your designer understands your vision and has the experience to deliver an appropriate solution. The designer should have a strong knowledge of html, site layout, Cascading Style Sheets “CSS”, color, content, content management and graphics.
Make sure that your web designer adheres to a structured web development methodology. A formal methodology helps to ensure continuous accountability and client oversight during the entire design process. In other words, a good methodology helps to avoid nasty surprises! Visit this website: Web Development Methodology to see an outline of a structured web development methodology.
A good designer will provide a detailed proposal of services, or better yet, a written “System Requirements Specificaiton” (SRS) or “Scope of Work” (SOW) document prior to accepting any engagement. Never engage a designer without a clear, written set of requirements. A professional designer will ask many questions about your needs prior to beginning an engagement. Be wary of any designer that is eager to start developing your site before these important questions are asked (see section I. above)
Don’t be afraid to talk numbers. You will save yourself a lot of grief if you are up-front about the money you are willing to spend on your project. A professional web designer will not normally haggle on rates or overall cost for a specific solution. A true web design expert will be able to give you an accurate estimate of all costs to be incurred. It is not difficult to find designers who “seem” to be a good bargain. But, in the web design world, always beware. “You get what you pay for”. Make sure you are paying for experience. Make sure you are NOT paying for someone to learn as they go. You’ll end up paying twice!
Look for a long term relationship. In order to ensure that your designer will be available for ongoing updates, it is often a good idea to agree on a monthly retainer that will allow you to request minor changes without having to go through a quote and approval process. Some designers are willing to reduce the initial design cost if the client is willing to enter into such an agreement. This allows the client to spread the design costs out over time.
For larger projects, always make sure that there are clearly defined milestones for project delivery. Otherwise, make sure that a portion of payment is contingent upon successful completion and delivery of the project. Make sure that your designer will continuously test your web site design with all of the major Internet browsers.
If you have any doubts about the experience or integrity of the designer, do not hesitate to ask for (and follow up with) references. Make sure you ask if they were completely satisfied with the work done? Was the work completed in a timely fashion? Did the designer maintain an open line of communication throughout the entire process?
Last, but certainly not least, make sure that your web designer has a good reputation for ethics and integrity. Ask the hard questions. Inquire about their commitment to quality, ethics and integrity. To view a standardized Code of Ethics, click here.